What is Meditation and How Can You Learn?
Meditate. Sit still and listen. Sit as still as the surface of a pond on a windless day. Listen so thoroughly that you hear the sound of silence. That’s meditation on a certain level, but it’s way too intimidating for beginners to understand (much less practice) such things. Let’s look at what meditation is, and see if you can learn how to meditate.
Some experts say meditation is prayer. Some say it’s a path to total relaxation. Others insist that the only true way to meditate is to study for years, train with a Yogi, and reach some mystical level of spiritual advancement wherein you understand that the only reality is unreality. That may all be true.
Experts argue about the word’s origins, too. Did it come from a Latin root meaning listen, or from a Greek root meaning think about? It really doesn’t matter—the act of meditating is a healthy way to center yourself, clear your mind of worries, and help your spiritual self grow.
Meditation is as old as the universe. People have always meditated in one way or another. Sticking a label on the process doesn’t make it unattainable or reserve meditation for the spiritual elite. Anyone can learn to quiet the mind, filter out the daily drivel of stress and hustle, and calmly listen to those things that help us find our place.
Learning to Meditate
The simplest way is to sit yourself down, quiet your body, and quiet your mind. You don’t have to have fancy music, teachers and guides, or exotic incense, though all of those things can make the experience enjoyable. When you commit to adopting meditation, do it solo at first.
1. Turn off the phone.
2. Go to a place that feels safe, warm, and comfortable.
3. You can sit or lie down, but sleep is not the goal.
4. Loosen your clothing, support your back and buttocks.
5. Set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes.
6. Close your eyes and notice any part of your body that is uncomfortable or fidgeting.
7. Listen to your breathing. Don’t change it. Don’t judge it. Don’t worry about it. Just listen until the timer rings.
There. You’ve meditated. Set aside 15 minutes every day to repeat and expand. As you feel like getting more depth, try some of the simpler books about meditation like: Jack Kornfield’s Meditation for Beginners (includes a CD of guided meditation) or Kathleen McDonald’s How to Meditate–A Practical Guide. Experiment with CDs and books on tape.
Lots of practitioners like to create a private sanctuary at home, and that can be as simple as putting a comfortable chair, soft lighting, and a source of music in a quiet corner. Go find music or guided lessons that appeal to you. Choose some candles or incense if you like that sort of thing. But the key to hearing the universe is to make time to meditate and do it.